Last updated on September 17th, 2023 at 12:51 pm
In October 2018, I remember hearing Mae Simpson for the first time on a freezing fall day. I immediately wondered who was on that small makeshift stage.
I saw Simpson and her band perform live again in 2019 as part of the annual “Happy Birthday Janis” show at First Avenue, and they took over the Main Stage. This is a band that makes every stage seem too small due to their incredible presence and vocals that carry in any room and venue. I knew big things were about to happen as they were rewriting the definition of “Minneapolis Sound.”
I witnessed them playing bigger and bigger venues, with the song “Words” in heavy rotation on 89.3 The Current, and all of a sudden, the global pandemic hit and decapitated live music around the world. But two years later, they’ve survived what might have been the end of any normal band, and their music keeps getting better.
On September 1st, Chandelier & Bloom was released. This album will be life-changing for this band and the state of Minnesota’s sound. The first two singles are out (“Cap Guns” and “Minnehaha Mama”), but they don’t even scratch the surface of the power of this album. It bounces back from acoustic, jazz, rock, and Americana-like waves hitting you in every direction.
From the first notes of “Mountains,” one imagines sitting under the stars only to be hit by Simpson’s powerful voice. So many great singers come to mind when hearing her: Brandi Carlile, Patsy Cline, Amy Ray, and of course, Janis Joplin.
The writing and musicianship on this album make me forget that it was recorded in Minneapolis. Some songs evoke the late 60s Muscle Shoals sound with an Aretha Franklin, Etta James, or Rolling Stones “Wild Horses” vibe.
Chandelier & Bloom is an album that gets better after every listen. Tickets are still available for their album release celebration at the Fine Line this Saturday.